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Why CDA?

I love to reflect back on 1989 when I entered the early childhood field. I was living in what was called ‘base housing’, which is a term used on military installations where housing is provided to servicemembers and their families. One day I was babysitting my neighbors’ children and received a knock on my door. The kind woman who was at the door informed me that I had been reported for illegal childcare. ‘Not to worry’, she said, as she continued to explain to me that the Military Child Care Act had recently been passed and anyone caring for children in their homes needed to become a ‘Certified Family Child Care Provider’.

As a stay-at-home mom at that time, I was already enrolled in school part-time and studying early childhood education. Yet, the new requirement was that I would have to become CPR and First Aid qualified, learn about child abuse prevention and reporting, and allow for the Family Child Director to conduct monthly inspection visits to my home. The visits would focus on health and safety and would also allow for conversation about what curriculum should look like for children ages birth-age 5. I became a proud Family Child Care Provider, continued on to earn my Associates Degree, and fell in love with my work with young children and their families.

Fast forward to 1992, I decided that Family Child Care was not for me as my spouse received orders to Naval Air Station, Keflavik, Iceland. Upon arrival, I thought it would be best for me to get out of the house during the day when my daughters went to school, and I accepted a teaching position at one of the Child Development Centers. My first day at work, the ‘Training and Curriculum Specialist’ met with me to review my qualifications and handed me thirteen books (yes, this was prior to the time when we used computers for e-books or training), which were referred to as my ‘Modules’. ‘What’, I stated…. ‘I already have an Associate Degree. I felt for sure that I had already learned more from my two-year degree program in ECE than I would ever learn in from a set of training modules. Boy, was I wrong!

I took my Modules home and decided to approach the training with an optimistic mindset. About a year after starting my training, completing the required observations to demonstrate my competencies, and passing each assessment, I was awarded my training certificate. I was so proud of this certificate because I knew that the training I had completed advanced my job qualifications. I actually learned what I needed to so that I could best support children and their families. What I came to realize is that CDA Training is actual ‘job training’.

The Department of Defense Child Development Program was modeled after the CDA Credential. Though I am no longer part of this exemplary worldwide program, the training program I came to love in 1992 became the training program that I would use to develop teachers that I would work with over the course of my career as a program director. As I advanced to the position of program administrator in Iceland, then moved on to accept the same position at an installation in California, then on to Bahrain and eventually to Guam, I knew that CDA Training was job training. Whenever I transferred to a new installation, I knew that I and the teaching team that I worked with would be ‘speaking the same language’. Health and safety requirements, design of learning environment, understanding of the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of young children was the same. Working with families had the same relevance from one installation to the next, as did the need for writing effective classroom observations and continue to develop as professionals in our newly emerging field.

The DoD commitment to quality in child development came with me once I left my work as a program director in Guam. During my time as a center director in Connecticut, I continued to use the CDA Training model as the model of quality for working with new teachers who needed to learn about developmentally appropriate practices.

So, though I remain a strong advocate for the advancement of college degrees for teachers in our field, I remain steadfast in my commitment to promoting the CDA as a training model. Training on the 13 Functional Areas of the CDA has helped DoD to achieve its goal of high quality for all children of servicemembers around the world. If DoD can find a way to create a model that works worldwide, then the model can certainly work for individual states or programs who may commit to developing their early childhood workforce.

Atlas Training, Inc. is a newly accredited training program for child development that is modeled after the original CDA, similar to the model I experienced as a teacher when I first worked for DoD. The training program does not offer one-at-a-time workshops that do not allow for transfer of learning, but rather, requires participants to advance from one module to the next by reading, watching videos, participating in discussions, creating activities related to each of the functional areas, and completing assessments. The participant that completes the Atlas Training Program will be knowledgeable of best practices in early childhood education and will be able to transfer the training to practice.

As I reach out to facilitate training in an online format for teachers and family childcare providers, my goal is to continue to develop Atlas Training so that directors know that when they hire someone to fill a vacant teaching position, that the applicant is well trained and ready to do the work of teaching and caring for young children. We hope that in time, directors will be able to call us and to ask, ‘do you have any teachers preparing to graduate?”, or ‘I have a new teacher and she needs to enroll in training’.

If we can all get on the same page and begin to train teachers, first, when they do not yet have a college degree, then we can do so much to improve the outcomes that we all desire in our work with young children.

Questions about Atlas Training? Email us at info@atlastrainingcenter.com or call (860) 788-3646.

First Year Goals As An Early Childhood Educator

As an early childhood educator, there are several goals you will want to achieve as you advance your career. The first year of your career is often the most difficult but you’ll still want to make sure you can sure you can hit certain goals in order to become a more successful educator. Early childhood educators play a fundamental role in the social, academic, physical, and emotional development of children. When making your list of first year goals as an early childhood educator, consider the following suggestions.

  1. Building a relationship and building trust with your students.
    Some say that this is the most important first year goal of an early childhood educator. When you build positive relationships with students, your classroom becomes a nurturing and welcoming place for them. When children feel safe and secure, they are more open to learning.
  2. Teaching children to make friends.
    When a child attends a daycare, preschool, or pre-k, it is often the first time that they will be interacting with a lot of other children from all walks of life. As an early childhood educator, you should make it a first year goal to teach your new students how to build relationships. Building relationships revolves around sharing, resolving conflict, and expressing themselves with effective communication.
  3. Helping children develop confidence.
    The more confident children are, the more opportunities they’ll have to grow and thrive. Giving children activities that can help them build confidence and then praising them with success is a great way to do this. Confident children also tend to become more independent as they age.
  4. Developing a positive relationship with your student’s parents.
    Next to students, parents are the people that an early childhood teacher will interact with the most. Parents want their children to learn in a safe and nurturing environment. It should be a first year goal to show parents that you are not only providing their children with a wonderful learning environment but also a place that is safe from harm.
  5. Helping children learn practical skills.
    A great first year goal is to help your students learn practical skills that will help them gain independence as they grow older. Helping children learn skills such as shoe tying, buttoning their coat, putting together a puzzle, or even feeding themselves helps to build their confidence in and out of the classroom.

Atlas Training is a CDA Training program in Child Development. It offers Competency-Based Education (CBE) to participants on an interactive learning platform and is an alternative to the traditional online model of watching videos and taking a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate knowledge.

Six Teaching Stations that Every Early Childhood Learning Center Should Have

Every early learning center has a responsibility to provide a safe, fun, and educational place for children to grow. When setting up different early learning teaching stations, there are six areas that should be set up so that children can experience different subjects. Each of these areas should have learning tools on hand that children and teachers can use. Whether you have an established early learning center, are an employee of one, or are looking into opening one, these are six teaching stations that every early childhood learning center should have.

A Music Station
Set up an area where children can explore music. Music instruments are a great way to teach children how to explore different sounds and different types of music. They can also learn about beats and dancing. You should keep a media player close by so that kids can also listen to music and mimic the rhythms. Listening to the music can also help children to learn the different sounds of the instruments they’re playing with.

A General Play Area
The main purpose of a general play area is to encourage the children to use their imagination. Make sure you provide a comfortable area for the children to sit on. A large rug is usually fine. All the toys should have a storage space that children can access when they are told to put the toys away. You should label the bins with the name and picture of the toy that goes in it. Popular toys for learning areas include wooden and plastic blocks, Duplo Lego Bricks, puzzles, and toy food.

An Art and Craft Station
Art is a great way for young learners to express themselves creatively. Crafts are great way for a child to learn how to follow directions. When setting up your craft area, make sure you get the essentials such as crayons, paint, construction paper, safe scissors, glue, and markers. You should also keep some staple craft supplies such as popsicle sticks, yarn, cotton balls, feathers, and pipe cleaners. Make sure you have paper towels and smocks on hand so things don’t get too messy.

An Outdoor Play Area
Getting children outside is very important for their development. It is also helpful in keeping children and staff safer in the pandemic. Depending on your budget, your outdoor play area can be simple or elaborate. Children can easily play with typical outdoor toys such as hula hoops, trikes, balls, and jump ropes. Once you have a larger budget you can purchase swings, sandboxes, playscapes, and other larger equipment.

A Quiet Reading Area
Even though most young learners are not adept at reading quite yet, it is important for them have an area where they can look at books and be read to. This is especially important for early learning centers that allow children to nap in the afternoon. Reading to children before their nap relaxes them and gets them to focus better. You can also make the area into a library where children can “check out” books that they want their parents to read with them.

A Science Station
This part of the early learning classroom can be used to teach the basic of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Early learners can learn basic science experiments about nature, weather, and even chemistry. Science combined with excited kids can get messy so be sure to keep cleaning products close by the area!

About Atlas Training Center

Atlas Training is a CDA Training program in Child Development. It offers Competency-Based Education (CBE) to participants on an interactive learning platform and is an alternative to the traditional online model of watching videos and taking a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate knowledge. 

Participants enrolling in Atlas Training work through one module at a time and demonstrate that they understand and can apply what they learn prior to moving on to the next module. Progress is based on demonstration of proficiency and/or mastery of the 13 functional areas of the national CDA and is measured through assessments that include discussions, assignments, reflections and multiple choice quizzes.

Though Atlas Training is a nine month program, students have flexibility within each month to complete work at their own pace. Content mastery is the focus, rather than students completing training just to earn hours to use towards the credential. 

Celebrating Black Authors

This month, we would like to recognize five lesser-known children’s books by Black authors to celebrate black authorship in our field. Black authorship is important because it ensures that the voices, experiences, and stories of various black communities and cultures are recognized and that these experiences are depicted authentically.

These texts help non-Black children explore black lives and to develop an emerging awareness of and appreciation for new cultures, dialects, and communities. These texts can also affirm black children’s sense of identity and self-worth.

Hair Love, by Mathew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison is a wholesome, delightful story about Zuri, a girl who is on a mission to create a fabulous hairstyle. When she has difficulty doing her hair, her father steps in to help! One of the reasons this book is so enjoyable is because of the fun, loving relationship between the girl and her father throughout the story. The illustrations are simple and cheerful and the message of self-love is easily conveyed.

Whose Knees Are These? is a book written by Jabari Asim and Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. This is an extremely simple book that is perfect for mobile infants and toddlers who are beginning to explore their bodies.

I Got the Rhythm is a book that was written by Connie Schofield-Morrison and illustrated by Frank Morrison. This book follows a young black girl as she sees, hears, feels, and smells rhythm throughout her daily experiences. The story depicts common daily activities, but the powerful poses of the characters transform seemingly mundane experiences to ones rich with passion, expression, and movement.

Firebird, a book written by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers, tells the story of a ballerina who explores her self-doubt and discovers the importance of perseverance. The story is poetic and lightly philosophical, but the illustrations are captivating and dramatic. This book is also an Ezra Jack Keats Honor Book and the illustrator is a Caldecott-winning artist.
Sulwe is a book by Lupia Nyong’o that addresses issues of self-esteem and self-love related to skin color. The main character, Sulwe, is darker than the members of her family and tries to turn herself lighter because she perceives lighter skin color as more beautiful. A magical adventure unfolds and Sulwe comes to appreciate her unique beauty.

February Early Childhood Education Open House

Atlas Training is a CDA Training program in Child Development. It offers Competency-Based Education (CBE) to participants on an interactive learning platform and is an alternative to the traditional online model of watching videos and taking a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate knowledge.

Participants enrolling in Atlas Training work through one module at a time and demonstrate that they understand and can apply what they learn prior to moving on to the next module. Progress is based on demonstration of proficiency and/or mastery of the 13 functional areas of the national CDA and is measured through assessments that include discussions, assignments, reflections, and multiple choice quizzes.

Though Atlas Training is a nine-month program, students have flexibility within each month to complete work at their own pace. Content mastery is the focus, rather than students completing training just to earn hours to use towards the credential.

Join us for a virtual open house and learn how you can earn your CDA Credential in as little as nine months.

CDA vs College

As a professor and academic advisor, I often meet with early childhood teachers to learn about their background and professional goals and tailor their learning plans accordingly. What I have learned throughout my career as an educator is that choosing your education path wisely can make all the difference.

But that path looks different for everyone, and different paths address different knowledge and career needs.

For example, while a higher education degree should be a long-term goal for most educators, it is not always the best starting point. It is my view that someone new to the field should not have to wait three semesters to learn about health and safety or child development. These are skills that matter on day 1 of employment, and all teachers should have a foundational understanding of early childhood when they work with children.

State priorities have shifted considerably over the past twenty years, with more spending devoted to college credits and degree obtainment across most states. For many teachers, this shift is hugely beneficial, enabling members of the ECE community to advance professionally without absorbing huge costs in a field that does not pay well in the first place.

While I applaud the advocates and political leaders who have worked tirelessly to provide funding for these college programs, I believe that this orientation should be tempered with caution in the name of practicality.

The reality that seems to get overlooked is that college is not necessarily the right choice for every teacher, and even if it IS the right choice, it is not always the best place to start.

Consider, for example, that it can take six or more years for a full-time teacher to earn an associates degree in early childhood. In the mean time, there may be significant attendance gaps – sometimes even years – in which a teacher does not advance. In the mean time, the teacher’s level on the state’s registry may reflect very little in the way of qualifications.

I also challenge the assumption that college is the best educational format for everyone. During my career as a director, I knew MANY teachers who performed exceptional work with children, but who repeatedly failed college courses due to challenges with writing. Should these teachers’ quality be overlooked and undermined by our existing college orientation, or can we, as a field, consider, that alternative pathways, such as the CDA, provide an acceptable level of skills validation?

Another consideration is that many teachers never complete their degrees or, as is becoming increasingly common, they leave the classroom entirely once they do obtain one.

Thankfully, I believe the field is beginning to return to a more moderate perspective on professional development. CDA credentials are now accepted for college credits, and funding for them continues to grow. As you move forward, please take time to reflect on what path is best for you. If it’s the CDA, we hope to see you in our program. Learn more by emailing us.

-Maureen Hogan PHD

Five of the Best Online Resources for Early Childhood Educators

Being an early childhood educator is a rewarding career but can be extremely challenging. This year has brought a variety of new challenges because of COVID-19. Educators have had to restructure many aspects of their day to day interactions with their students. Since Atlas Training offers several learning choices on CDA Credential training, we have a vested interest in helping all educators succeed. There are many organizations out there that are designed to help early educators. Teachers who are facing challenges can explore the websites of these organizations and find several resources on age appropriate lesson plans, activities, and subjects.
Five of the Best Online Resources for Early Childhood Educators

  1. The National Association for the Education of Young Children: NAEYC is the largest organization in the world strictly dedicated to the betterment of young children. Early childhood educators will find a plethora of information on relating to children and understanding their development.
  2. The National Association for Child Development: This association offers several resources on educating children of all ages. Their website is broken down into several smaller sites about specific types of problems and concerns of teachers. It has been hailed as one of the best sites for early childhood teachers that want their students to reach their full potential.
  3. Resources for Early Learning: This website offers several different learning activities for children from birth to five years old. Whether you’re a new or experienced educator, you will find many ideas on how to encourage children to learn, grow, and have fun. Their activities include math, music, play, reading, science, communication, and art.
  4. The Gryphon House: This site was created by a distributor of children’s books. They have an excellent resource blog that covers current events that effect early childhood education. Besides having several free activities for students, they also offer lesson plans for each age and subject. Their store has several top selling books on early childhood education resources.
  5. The National Education Association: This association has more than 3 million members who are educators, students, activists, workers, parents, neighbors and friends. They believe in the power of public education to transform lives and create a just and inclusive society. NEA’s edcommunities is a place for teachers, parents, and other education professionals to share ideas and resources. There are several conferences and summit that the NEA has every year. The events include information on leadership, social justice, and training.
    Thank you for reading our blog on the best online resources for early childhood educators. Atlas Training is a CDA Training program in Child Development. It offers Competency-Based Education (CBE) to participants on an interactive learning platform and is an alternative to the traditional online model of watching videos and taking a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate knowledge. Contact us today to learn more.

Atlas Training Center Open House 12-17-20

Atlas Training is a CDA Training program in Child Development. It offers Competency-Based Education (CBE) to participants on an interactive learning platform and is an alternative to the traditional online model of watching videos and taking a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate knowledge.

Participants enrolling in Atlas Training work through one module at a time and demonstrate that they understand and can apply what they learn prior to moving on to the next module. Progress is based on demonstration of proficiency and/or mastery of the 13 functional areas of the national CDA and is measured through assessments that include discussions, assignments, reflections, and multiple choice quizzes.

Though Atlas Training is a nine-month program, students have flexibility within each month to complete work at their own pace. Content mastery is the focus, rather than students completing training just to earn hours to use towards the credential.

Join us for a virtual open house and learn how you can earn your CDA Credential in as little as nine-months.

Attendees of the open house will get half off their 2021 tuition! Register with THIS FORM.

Questions? Email ewilson@atlastrainingcenter.com

The Importance of Early Childhood Education in 2021

2020 has been a challenge for all of us. Parents, teachers, and students have all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With a vaccine finally on the way, many see this as a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s why we must focus on the importance of early childhood education in 2021. Early childhood education bolsters economic development and creates a foundation for a child’s lifelong learning. With so many opportunities lost in 2020, early childhood educators must focus on creating the best educational opportunities for our smallest citizens in 2021.

Research has shown that the investment in early education improves cognitive abilities and behavioral traits. With so many opportunities lost in 2020, educators must make up for the lack of sociability, motivation, and routines that children need. This is especially important for disadvantaged children who benefit from the investment in early childhood education. 

Even with a global pandemic raging, the United States still trails other countries in early childhood education. We are significantly behind in enrollment, funding, and the quality of resources that we have access to. With the economy so negatively impacted by the pandemic, early childhood education must be advocated for. It affects school readiness and provides the essential learning needed so that children can contribute to successful economy. It also allows parents to return to work while their children are learning in a safe environment. 

Early childhood education also combats social inequality by providing all families with quality learning and care. It closes the opportunity gap of race, location, socioeconomic status, and allows all students to reach the best of their potential. Children who are disadvantaged by poverty experience a greater benefit of early childhood education because it minimizes gaps between low income and more economically advantaged children.

Children who experience quality early childhood learning are 25% more likely to graduate from high school and are four time more likely to earn a college degree. They are also more likely to earn up to 25% more in wages as an adult. Research has shown that major brain development occurs before the age of 5 or 6. Parents should use this opportunity to begin educating their children at younger ages. With hectic work schedules and pandemic related worries, parents may forget the importance of educating their children at such a young age.

In conclusion, the research drawn about early childhood education shows a huge need for it in 2021. Individuals and societies are made better because of early childhood education’s social and economic development. With 2020 robbing many children of quality social and educational opportunities, an emphasis must be placed on the importance of early childhood education in 2021. 

If you are interested in a potential career in early childhood education in 2021, Atlas Training Center has an easy to learn Childhood Development Associate Credential course that can be completed in as little as nine months. Our training courses are all online so if earning your credential is your New Year’s resolution contact us today to earn your CDA Credential online.